Hawkins ready to helm school board

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — By design, the newly-selected President of the Trenton Board of Education is not walking into unfamiliar territory. Mike Hawkins, selected Monday to head the panel for the next year, has been on the board for four years and is ready to take his turn.

“We do it a little different than most districts and rotate the position,” Hawkins said. “Keeps things fair, and gives everyone a chance to be in that position.”

By day, Hawkins is a 10-year veteran of the Trenton Police Department, most recently assigned to head the department’s K-9 unit. Service on the school board has been a different education, with challenges familiar to everyone in public service these days.

“As always, the budget is the number one issue for any board or government,” Hawkins said.

Trenton Public Schools has faced its share of financial battles; last year the board was able to restore general education busing for the year, and doing so again in 2012-2013 is one of many challenges ahead.

Addressing those challenges, Hawkins said, will rely heavily on the new superintendent that he and the board expect to appoint this spring. Current Superintendent Larry Leapley returned to the district last year on an interim basis, and three internal candidates are being considered.

“It’s a learning process,” Hawkins said of board experience. “There’s a lot more that goes into every issue. That’s one of the things I learned, that it takes time to understand everything.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)